Transitioning to College

As students transition from secondary to post-secondary education, there are some major differences that the student needs to keep in mind. These differences include the following:


  • High School: Students are identified by the school districts.
  • College: Students must self-identify by registering with the Disability Services office.


  • High School: Information is shared with parents/guardians.
  • College: Every student’s right to privacy and confidentiality is upheld.

Placement and Accommodations

  • High School: Placement and accommodations include parents/guardians.
  • College: Placement and accommodations do not include parents/guardians.

Eligibility for Services

  • High School: Eligibility for services is driven by falling below grade norms.
  • College Eligibility for services is driven by the impact of the disability on major life activity(ies).

Instructor Awareness

  • High School: Special Education teachers may know the student and be aware of specific difficulties or concerns, including strengths and weaknesses.
  • College: Students will need to initiate discussion and make concerns known to college instructors, advisors, and disability resource facilitators.

Time Management

  • High School: School district structures a student’s weekly schedule.
  • College: Each student is responsible for their own time management.

Reminders and Deadlines

  • High School: Teachers remind students of exam dates and assignment deadlines.
  • College: Students are expected to know exam dates and assignment deadlines by referring to course syllabi.


  • High School: Students are disciplined for skipping class.
  • College: Students are not disciplined for skipping class.

Time Spent in Classroom

  • High School: Time spent in classroom averages about 40 hours per week.
  • College: Time spent in classroom is approximately 13-16 hours per week, with additional hours put in outside of class.

Time Spent on Homework

  • High School: Time spent on homework is often substantially less than in college.
  • College: Time spent on homework is usually 2 hours for every hour spent in class.

Preparing for Exams

  • High School: Preparing for exams usually involves memorization and identification of information.
  • College: Preparing for exams involves application of information.


  • High School: Tutors and/or extra instruction are/is provided by teachers.
  • College: Students must go to the instructor/teaching assistant during office hours or seek out their own tutors to get additional information on specific course content.

Grade Changes

  • High School: Instructors might retroactively change grades by allowing a student to retake an exam.
  • College:In general, grades are not changed retroactively.

Altering Courses and Programs

  • High School: Courses and programs can be fundamentally altered.
  • College: Courses and programs are not fundamentally altered.